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  QSuccess: Are Credit Cards Good or Bad for College Students?
by Andrey Rudnitsky
April, 30 2007
 

Owning a credti card as a student is not always good and, on the other hand, is not always bad either. That is why we ask ourselves, "are credit cards good or bad for me, a college student, and should I get one?" Well… there really is no solid answer to those 2 questions. Credit cards are both good and bad. Let me explain.

The Downside:
•Not being able to meet minimum monthly payments
•Predatory practices
•Lots of small print
•Newfound spending temptations
•High interest rates

I am sure many of you have heard horror stories from friends who were not able to meet minimum monthly payments and jumped off bridges and such. (Some of those stories are true … except for the jumping off bridges part.) And what’s interesting about it is that the problem usually stems from poor financial responsibility. Often times, people run up credit card bills and just make the minimum payments until their credit card company raises their minimum payments in an effort to have them pay off their outstanding balances.

This can be a precarious situation to find yourself in, because if you miss one minimum payment, the credit card company has the option of raising your APR to a ridiculously high rate that not even Donald Trump could pay. This high rate range, from about 20%-30%, is particularly bad because your balance snowballs and increases at a much higher rate than before. Some experts call it “predatory practices” and interestingly enough, most people agree to it. Yep, even without knowing it. You see, it’s in the small print section. (Those snakes!) You should read it sometime. It won’t win a Pulitzer Prize anytime soon, but it may save you a lot of money.

The Upside:
•1st step towards financial maturity
•Helps build credit history
•Increases credit score
•Helps cover urgent expenses

When you graduate from college, you will want to get rid of your piece-of-crap 1980s Volvo that your Uncle Frank so generously gave you for your 16th birthday. You’re going to want to show everyone how well educated you are by purchasing a shiny new BMW or Mercedes-Benz that does exactly the same thing as a Honda or Kia. But people with degrees only drive European cars, right? Right.

Chances are, when you graduate you will have very little money, so you will need to get a loan to purchase that ideal car. This is when you’ll be happy that you made all those tedious monthly payments on time. A good credit rating will really come in handy when applying for a loan. Having a credit card gives you the ability to start building your credit history and raising your credit score.

 

In my opinion, credit cards are the first step to financial maturity. When I got my student credit card, I felt just a little more grown up, financially that is.

Andrey’s Recommendations

Credit cards are not for all students. You have to be smart and disciplined to have a credit card at such a young age. While I was in college, I started out with a credit card that had a limit of $500. I made all of my purchases using my credit card and paid it off at the end of the month before any interest would accrue. Among other things, this strategy helped my credit score soar in the mid-700s (out of 800), which is not bad for a 22-year-old.

Do not get a credit card if you like shopping. Do not get a credit card and let your girlfriend borrow it. Do not get a credit card if you are under 18, as your application will be rejected. Do not get a credit card if you do not have a job. Do not get a credit card and expect to use it at Waffle House. They don’t accept credit cards. Neither do street vendors—yet.

Do get a credit card if you would like to get ahead of your peers in terms of basic financial understanding. Do get a credit card if you would like to build your credit history and credit score. Do get a credit card if you are disciplined. Do get a credit card if you want to be one step closer to financial maturity. Do get a credit card if you have read this article and want to be QSuccessful.

Below, I’ve collected some of the current offers from various companies. Competition in the credit card business is wide and rampant, which is good for you because banks want to give you the best deal possible. It’s a shame I never had that benefit.

 
Starbucks Duetto Card
Discover Student
Card
Chase Student Flexible Rewards
Discover Student Monogram Card
 
Starbucks Card Platinum Duetto™ Visa® Card 
Discover® Student Platinum Card
Chase Student Flexible Rewards Card
Discover® Student Monogram Card 
 

Clicking on any of these cards will take you to the bank's/credit card's website for more information.

Starbucks Card: Cool because you earn Duetto Dollars as you make purchases using your card. It also acts as both a Starbucks Card as well as a Visa Credit Card.

Discover Student Card: Good company with a good reputation.

Chase Student Flexible Rewards: Main feature is that you get 1 point per eligible dollar spent in net purchases (refer to site for more info).

Discover Student Monogram: Cool because you can get a card with your initials on it. Great idea! Refer to their website for more info.

What next?

Do not apply for a card that has anything but a 0% Introductory APR. Which all of these have. Realize that the rate will change once the promotional period is over.

Also... make sure that there is no annual fee.

Good luck in making your selection!

 

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